Warm Indian summer days and cool autumn nights, the perfect weather to enjoy a relaxing vacation with your favorite friend(s) and wine.
Whether you stay at home or head out on weekends along the New England coast, it’s a great time to experience the brilliance of nature and combine it with one of Mother Nature’s greatest achievements — the grape.
Recently, the Wine Goddess and I began our 22nd wedding anniversary weekend in Lowell, dining al fresco in the pergola at home, before heading to Ogunquit, Maine, for a short getaway involving no Internet. Just waking up anytime, having coffee on the beach, walking the Marginal Way, planning a long lunch, taking a nap in Adirondack chairs, then waking again to read and map out dinner plans was a treat.
A weekend without wine, of course, would be sacrilegious under these conditions. I took three bottles for the trip: 2007 Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007 Silverado Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2004 Cascina Ballarin Bricco Barolo.
Yet it was the first wine that kick-started the wonderful weekend, a 2012 Murieta’s Well “The Whip” white wine from Livermore Valley, Calif. The Wine Wizard, Richard Rourke of Riccardo’s Trattoria in Lowell, introduced us to this aromatic eight-varietal blend at dinner one evening and we were hooked. Think of drinking a fruit salad of peach, apple, pear, citrus rind and honey. It’s a concoction of Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Orange Muscat, Viognier, Pinot Blanc and Muscat Canelli.
The Whip superbly complemented a green salad with apple, walnuts and goat cheese and a second plate of butternut squash ravioli. The wine sells for $17.99.
The next night was in the mid-60s with clear skies. We dined in the backyard pergola, lit the fire pit, and danced to Sinatra’s September of My Years album. We ate grilled steaks and drank a 2008 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvingnon ($42), an annual favorite.
The next day, after a trip to Perkins Cove, we both embraced a lobster roll ($15.99 and well worth it!) at Jackie’s Too restaurant.
Over the next few days we dined at The Cliff House and Striper’s at the Breakwater Inn. But one night stood out — the one in which we decided to nest in place. The night was cool, in the high 50s. We sat wearing sweaters on the lawn of the Terrace by the Sea overlooking Ogunquit Beach. We opened a bottle of the big, masculine 2004 Cascina Ballarin Bricco Barolo ($45). We sipped it and chipped away at a chunk of fresh Reggiano Parmigiano cheese, drizzling each piece with honey. It’s the taste of the gods and an experience you shouldn’t miss.
Anniversary celebrations with the Wine Goddess get better every year. In our younger days we’d dress up and make a run for a fancy restaurant which could be hit or miss. Now we’re older but younger at heart. We’ve mastered the simplest of things, like sitting in the dark, talking, laughing and “arguing” whether Barolo is more pleasing than Brunello, or is it worth buying the latest Nelson DeMille or John Grisham novel. The memories are richer, more enduring. Sinatra said it best in one of his many great songs: “Some drink the water, I will drink the wine.” I don’t fully understand what he meant, but I remain in gratitude to the heavens that the Wine Goddess is here to help me figure it out.